Aiken leads at Africa Open
Thomas Aiken (Gallo Images)
East London - Spanish Open champion Thomas Aiken took full advantage of benign conditions to snatch a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Africa Open on Thursday.
The 28-year-old South African fired a nine-under 64 at the coastal East London Golf Club to edge out fellow countrymen Retief Goosen, his playing partner, and Jaco Ahlers.
The course is short by modern standards, measuring 6 191 yards, and relies on blustery winds for its main defence.
Aiken, playing in the first group of the day, stole a march on his rivals by grabbing two eagles and five birdies in a bogey-free round.
"I wasn't really expecting that after two weeks without touching a club," he told reporters. "It was a great morning this morning and scoring conditions were good.
"The course was there for the taking. It's not the longest but it bites if you go wrong. Anything off line is pretty much a reload off the tee which makes it a thinking man's course."
Goosen, holder of two US Open titles, reeled off nine birdies and a single dropped shot in his round.
South Africans Dean O'Riley and Michael du Toit and Briton Phillip Price shared fourth place on 66.
Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, carded a double-bogey six at the sixth as he went round in 69.
The Africa Open is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and South Africa's Sunshine Tour.
Scores: (RSA, unless stated)
64 - Thomas Aiken
65 - Retief Goosen, Jaco Ahlers
66 - Michael du Toit, Phillip Price (WAL), Dean O'Riley
67 - Danny Willett (ENG), Shaun Norris, Maarten Lafeber (NED), Charles-Edouard Russo (FRA), Richard Bland (ENG), JJ Senekal
68 - JG Claassen, David Howell (ENG), Julien Guerrier (FRA), Agustin Domingo (ESP), Tyrone Ferreira, Tim Sluiter (NED), Jordi Garcia (ESP), Garth Mulroy, Taco Remkes (NED), Frederico Colombo (ITA), Peter Karmis, Craig Lee (SCO)
69 - Allan Versfeld, Chris Wood (ENG), Merrick Bremner, Grant Muller, Wil Besseling (NED), Scott Pinckney (USA), Joshua Cunliffe, Edouard Dubois (FRA), Magnus A Carlsson (SWE), Sam Walker (ENG), Alastair Forsyth(SCO), Ruan de Smidt, Adam Gee (ENG), Keith Horne, Theunis Spangenberg, Richard Sterne, Louis Oosthuizen, Tommy Fleetwood (ENG), Desvonde Botes, Bryce Easton, Adilson Da Silva (BRA), Jake Roos, Julien Quesne (FRA), Simon Thornton (IRL), Tjaart van der Walt
70 - Roope Kakko (FIN), James Kingston, David Hewan, Jacques Blaauw, Sam Little (ENG), Steven O'Hara (SCO), Jamie Moul (ENG), Adrian Otaegui (ESP), Matthew Nixon (ENG), Dawie Van der Walt, Ulrich van den Berg, Alan McLean (SCO), Danie van Tonder, Ockie Strydom, Graham van der Merwe, Benn Barham (ENG), Alessandro Tadini (ITA), Oliver Wilson (ENG), Pelle Edberg (SWE), Doug McGuigan, Jamie Elson (ENG), Knut Borsheim (NOR), Oliver Bekker
71 - Steven Jeppesen (SWE), Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (FRA), Warren Abery, Markus Brier (AUT), John Parry (ENG), Justin Harding, Darren Fichardt, Albert Pistorius, Raymond Russell (SCO), Andy Sullivan (ENG), Ariel Canete (ARG), Ryan Tipping, Neil Cheetham (ENG), Jorge Campillo (ESP), Trevor Fisher Jnr, Reinier Saxton (NED), Robert Dinwiddie (ENG), Thabo Maseko, Neil Schietekat, Jaco Van Zyl, Joel Sjoholm (SWE), George Coetzee, Bernd Ritthammer (GER)
72 - Peter Hedblom (SWE), Michiel Bothma, David Drysdale (SCO), Paul Bradshaw, Daniel Denison (ENG), Alvaro Velasco (ESP), Hendrik Buhrmann, Matthew Carvell, Robert Wiederkehr (SUI), Matthew Baldwin (ENG), Chris Gane (ENG), Ricardo Santos (POR), Daniel Greene, George Murray (SCO), Jean Hugo, Peter Gustafsson (SWE), Alex Haindl, Thomas Norret (DEN), Christiaan Basson
73 - Justin Walters, Scott Strange (ENG), Andrea Pavan (ITA), Emiliano Grillo (ARG), John Peterson (USA), Matthew Southgate (ENG), HP Bacher (AUT), Greg Petzer, Bradford Vaughan, Daniel Gaunt (AUS), Lyle Rowe, Andrew Curlewis, PH McIntyre, Benjamin Hebert (FRA), Sam Hutsby (ENG), Andrew Johnston (ENG), Guillaume Cambis (FRA), Vaughn Groenewald, Phillip Archer (ENG), Reggie Adams, Lloyd Saltman (SCO)
74 - Martin Maritz, Divan van den Heever, Damien McGrane (IRL), Chris Swanepoel, Andre Cruse, Lloyd Kennedy (ENG), Tyrone Mordt, Andrew Marshall (ENG), Titch Moore
75 - Jbe' Kruger, Mikael Lundberg(SWE), Prinavin Nelson, Andrew Georgiou
76 - Victor Riu (FRA), Richard Finch (ENG), Colin Nel, Thomas Lovett
77 - Brandon Pieters, Branden Grace
80 - Adrien Bernadet (FRA)
83 - Alpheus Kelapile